Supporting local businesses is high on my list of values. I do this when I’m travelling, seeking out family-run restaurants and eating local produce, and the same goes at home when I’m eating, drinking and shopping in Leeds. I do my food shopping at Leeds Kirkgate Market, I choose independent restaurants over chains, I enjoy plenty of Yorkshire produce from mayonnaise brands to beer, and I love shopping in Leeds’ Corn Exchange!
There are many reasons why I like to eat, drink and shop local, from trying to reduce my carbon footprint, to wanting to enjoy local delicacies, to supporting the local economy. I’m not from Yorkshire, but its certainly welcomed me with open arms and provided me with endless opportunities, so why would I not want to invest back into it?
I’m sure you can imagine that when I was invited to visit Leeds Corn Exchange to celebrate Independents’ Day I felt pretty honoured! It would be the perfect opportunity to discover some new local businesses, engage with the people behind them and hopefully inspire you to discover them for yourselves! Let me tell you a little about Independents’ Day, before showing you my favourite places to shop in Leeds Corn Exchange.
What Is Independents’ Day?
Held on the 4th July, I don’t need to explain the play on words here. But Independents’ Day in this context is all about celebrating and supporting local, independent retailers, of which the Corn Exchange boasts 30! Myself and a few other bloggers were invited to celebrate with some food and drink before being given a tour of some of the retailers within the iconic building. Here’s what I discovered!
What is Leeds Corn Exchange?
Leeds Corn Exchange is a Grade 1 listed building, that’s stood in Leeds since 1863. It’s a beautiful round building, with a spectacular domed ceiling, romantic balconies and an instant sense of calm when you step inside.
The building operated as a tradition corn exchange until the 1990s, selling corn, wheat, barley, hops, cakes and flour. There were also regular farmers’ markets and a leather fair, and it was a focus point of the community, being used for trade up to six days a week. There was a war memorial in there, and even animal shows!
Now, it’s home to 30 independent retailers, making it perfect for shopping in Leeds if you’re looking for something a little different to your high street chains. From hats made from cork to beautiful handmade dresses, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for things to do in Leeds!
Where’s Best for Shopping in Leeds Corn Exchange?
The Great Yorkshire Shop – Best for Gift Shopping in Leeds
It goes without saying that anywhere called ‘The Great Yorkshire Shop’ is going to be a great place for shopping in Leeds! I might not be Yorkshire born and bred but this wonderful county has certainly stolen my heart!
The Great Yorkshire Shop sells a variety of goods from Yorkshire makers, artists and designers such as candles, soaps, shaving sets, t shirts and books about Yorkshire pudding (the best thing to come out of Yorkshire I think you’ll agree?!).
Chatting to the owner’s mother who was looking after this Leeds Corn Exchange shop when we visited, they also focus a lot on rhubarb in the products they sell in order to make the most of being situated in the rhubarb triangle. This place is absolutely built on a love of everything Yorkshire and the pride certainly shines through.
Fabrikk – Best for Hat Shopping in Leeds
I don’t really wear hats other than to keep my head warm in the winter, so this is a shop that I probably would have passed by had it not been for the Independents’ Day event. Fabrikk sells a beautiful variety of Yorkshire made hats including a range of vegan cork hats, meaning that you can look good and save the planet at the same time!
I walked away from here not only discovering another local business to shop at in Leeds, but also discovering that I can pull off the hat look after all. Watch this space for Nell’s hat phase.
Eye Kit – Best for Sunglasses Shopping in Leeds
I’m so gutted that I didn’t know about this shop just one day earlier! Eye Kit specialise in sports sunglasses, of which I had just bought from a large retailer just a few days earlier ahead of my trip to the Alps for some high altitude hiking and glacier climbing on the Spaghetti Route.
I had a lengthy conversation with the shop owner about my upcoming trip and her experiences of high altitude hiking and she really knew her stuff. There’s a huge range of high quality glasses (including prescription) and the prices are very reasonable… I’d highly recommend going if you’re a hiker, skier or general outdoors person!
The Plant Point – Best for Plant Shopping in Leeds
The Plant Point is Leeds Corn Exchange’s very own jungle! There are so many plants and all of them are uniquely stunning. As much as I’d have loved to buy one (or all) of them, I have a knack of killing every plant I purchase so it wouldn’t have been fair on these beautiful creatures.
Even if you’re not looking to buy something, just wandering around this shop feels so peaceful… perfect for a lunch break during a stressful day at work! P.S. they also sell gift cards so if you have a plant loving friend this would be the perfect a perfect Christmas or birthday present!
I couldn’t stop smiling whilst visiting Simcha Gallery, mainly due to the pure passion that shop owner, Stephen, had for making and selling jewellery. I clung on to every word as he explained that he splits his time between creating new pieces (which he designs by hand) and repurposing/up-cycling old jewellery to give sentimental items a new lease of life.
Stephen also introduced his mother/business partner and talked about his memories of his mother encouraging him to start making and creating things. Finally, he gave a demonstration and invited people to help him repurpose a piece of jewellery.
If you’re looking for a piece of jewellery that is unique and crafted with complete and utter love and care, then Simcha is definitely the best place for shopping in Leeds for you.
Where to Eat in Leeds Corn Exchange
As part of the Independents’ Day event, we enjoyed a meal a Humpit. As a lover of hummus, this wasn’t my first time eating as Humpit – an independent, vegan eatery in Leeds Corn Exchange serving up some of the best hummus and falafel around, along with the softest of wholemeal pittas for mopping up every mouthwatering mouthful.
So next time you’re shopping in Leeds, why not have a wander around the Corn Exchange and pick up some unique bits and bobs whilst supporting independent retailers? If you’re looking for more Leeds content, take a look at these posts:
- 67 Things to Do in Leeds City Centre
- 12 Best Coffee Shops in Leeds
- Best Restaurants in Leeds
- What to Do in Leeds for Foodies: Leeds Food Tours
- Pizza Making With Leeds Cookery School
- Where to Find the Best Sushi in Leeds